CANOWINDRA has to be the most interesting and delightful country town in Canberra’s hinterland.
A visit there last week to give a talk at the town’s exciting bushranger festival revealed the countryside in all its glory… full dams, green pasture, golden crops of canola and stock in peak condition.
But there’s the rub. While the world is heading for climate collapse, much of Australia never looked better. So, naturally, we are not seized with need to take the necessary urgent steps to combat the disaster rolling our way.
This is very dangerous; and it really strikes home when you’re accompanied by lovely little granddaughters whose futures are in our hands.
During the last long drought we were really energised about action on climate change. As an issue it destroyed two popular political leaders – Kevin Rudd when he backed away from it and Malcolm Turnbull when he declined to. But since then we’ve had one great season after another on the land. In fact, our big problem is that we’ve had too much rain.
Will that continue? It just might. It’s possible that we’ll turn out to be the lucky country once again, but if we allow ourselves to become sanguine about the bigger picture, we would be making a terrible mistake.
Because when climate collapse really starts to punch home, hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings are going to be affected by drought and starvation on the one hand and loss of territory from rising sea waters on the other.
That’s the time when all across the planet we will see a massive movement of climate refugees. That’s the time when we’ll look back at our current “boat people” problem as the good old days. That’s when our empty north, lush with monsoon rains, will become a magnet for the displaced people of the Pacific, the Indian sub-continent and Asia itself. Not so lucky, then!
So, it is very much in our self-interest to take a leading role in the issue; and I would like to think that there was a natural consensus in Australia to protect and preserve the integrity of the scientific method and to put our collective shoulder to the climate change wheel.
But I do worry when our Prime Minister calls climate science “crap” and the opposing political champion is “Slippery Bill” Shorten, who gives the distinct impression that a contest between principles and pragmatism would find him sliding to the side of the latter before you could say, “Julia Gillard”.